Top 10 Best Islands in Sabah 2023

With Sarawak, Brunei, and the Indonesian province of Kalimantan, Sabah is the second-largest state in Malaysia that shares the Borneo island with them. Sabah has various natural features, distinctive cultures, thrilling adventures, stunning beaches, and fantastic cuisines for the culinary adventurous. 

Maliau Basin has earned the title “The Lost World of Sabah” due to its remoteness and inaccessibility. The area is a biodiversity treasure, with over 240,000 species, 38% of the island’s species. Sabah, known as the “Maldives of Southeast Asia,” has a plethora of islands that tourists can visit. So, here are the top 10 best islands in Sabah 2023.

What Is Sabah’s Most Beautiful City?

Sepanggar Island, visible from Kota Kinabalu City Centre, is one of Sabah’s most peaceful places to visit. It allows you to slow down and unwind in its serene setting. Sandy beaches encircle the island on one side, and tropical rainforests on the other.

Is It Worth Visiting Sabah Islands? 

Sabah is blessed with beautiful islands of all sizes, each with its attractions, making it a haven for divers and snorkelers. Some are the remains of a long-gone volcano, while others are nothing more than a sandbar encircled by azure waters that look like they belong in the Maldives. 

10 Best Islands in Sabah 2023

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1. Manukan Island

Manukan-Island
Image Credit: Agoda
Manukan-Island--
Image Credit: Viator

Manukan Island is just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah’s capital city. It is the second largest island in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. It offers a wide range of water activities for water sports enthusiasts, including snorkelling, scuba diving, parasailing, and other water sports. 

It also has one of the best spots on the island to catch Borneo’s famous sunset, Sunset Point. Immerse yourself in a tranquil haven with all premium villas and suites overlooking the South China Sea. Manukan Island, the most developed island in the marine park, is a must-see on island-hopping tours, typically including round-trip transportation.

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2. Mantanani Islands

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Image Credit: Amazing Borneo Tours
Manukan-Island-
Image Credit: Mantanani Island

The small group of three uninhabited islands known as the Mantanani Islands is a lovely and tranquil location. The Mantanani Islands offer various activities, from island trekking and sunset cruises to fishing and beach exploration. Two of this island’s most popular water sports are scuba diving and snorkelling. 

Due to the presence of seahorses, imperial shrimps, blue-ringed octopuses, pink-eyed gobbles, and numerous other species of marine life, the three islands of Mantanani Besar, Mantanani Kecil, and Lungisan have become very well-known for muck diving. Many other activities are available on the island for those who don’t want to participate in water sports. You can relax in a hammock, play volleyball, or go fishing in the nearby village. There are numerous resorts, homestays, and other lodging options on and around the island.

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3. Sapi Island

Sapi-Island
Image Credit: Travel Guide Warehouse
Sapi-Island-
Image Credit: Klook

Sapi Island is an excellent choice for a relaxing vacation or an adrenaline rush. There is a lot to do here, from swimming and snorkelling in the pristine blue sea to discovering the fascinating culture of Sapi Island. If you’re adventurous, you can try Coral Flyer, the world’s longest coral flyer zipline, for a spectacular bird’s eye view of Sapi Island and its neighbouring islands.

The highlight of this island is an immaculate secret cliff 800 metres above sea level with a breathtaking view. The trail to this cliff is full of surprises as you pass through sedimentary rocks and are greeted with a breathtaking view of the sea. Sapi Island has several hidden beaches that will take your breath away with their tranquil atmosphere. These beaches are so remote that it’s almost as if you’re living in a dream. So, bring your camera when you visit Sapi Island for an incredible photographic experience.

Address: Sabah

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4. Mabul Island

Mabul-Island
Image Credit: Asia Diving Vacation
Mabul-Island-
Image Credit: Adventoro

Mabul Island is a paradise that screams to be explored, both above and below the waves. Mabul Island, a small oval-shaped island with sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters, is located on the northwest corner of a large 200-hectare reef. While you can spend your days lazing on the island’s soft sand, the incredible variety of marine life makes this one of Sabah’s most unique islands.

Mabul Island’s underwater playground has everything, from flamboyant cuttlefish and blue-ringed octopuses to spike-fin gobies, frogfish, and moray eels. When you’ve explored what lies beneath the surface, you can relax in one of the accommodation options, which range from backpacker-styled lodges to luxurious water bungalows.

Address: Sabah

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5. Bohey Dulang Island

Bohey-Dulang-Island
Image Credit: PulauMabul.com
Bohey-Dulang-Island-
Image Credit: OhBulan

Bohey Dulang Island is a paradise of volcanic remnants waiting to be discovered. This breathtaking natural beauty, the second-largest island in Tun Sakaran Marine Park, is a must-see. Being only a 30-minute boat ride from Semporna, Bohey Dulang Island is perfect for day trips and exploring nearby islands. The highlight of this beautiful island is its hill, which offers breathtaking views from the top. 

While marine life abounds, the island’s steep slopes are home to many avian species, including pied hornbills, partridges, and ground-dwelling scrub fowls. Small rock pools fed by waterfalls can be found all over the island. A giant clam and marine invertebrate hatchery can be found on the summit, which is reachable three-quarters of an hour from sea level. 

Address: Sabah

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6. Sibuan Island

Sibuan-Island
Image Credit: Sipadan
Sibuan-Island-
Image Credit: Flickr

Sibuan Island is regarded as one of the most beautiful in the Celebes Sea. The islands of Bodgaya, Bohey Dulang, Tetagan, Sebangkat, Selakan, Maiga, and Mantabuan are also a part of the Tun Sakaran Marine Park, also known as the Semporna Islands Park. There are no resorts or public facilities on the islands. A few sea gipsies live on the island, which is unfortunately visible by the rubble they frequently leave behind. Fortunately, diving schools in the area hold periodic reef and beach cleanups.

Sibuan Island is usually visited as part of a day trip from one of the other islands, such as Mataking, or as part of a day trip from Semporna. It is long and narrow with a triangular shape when viewed from above. A long, narrow sand strip to the south is flooded at high tide. A small forest is in the centre of the island, and the beaches are lined with coconut trees. Swimming, scuba diving, snorkelling, and sunbathing are popular activities in Sibuan.

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7. Bum Bum Island

Bum-Bum-Island
Image Credit: Melancong.my
Bum-Bum-Island-
Image Credit: Trip.com

Bum Bum Island is accessible from the town of Semporna. A one-kilometre stretch of the Terusan Tando Bulong channel separates Semporna and Bum Bum Island and is a popular island-hopping destination due to its proximity to the mainland. Bum Bum Island is not a well-known tourist destination, but there are several low-cost floating resorts and longhouses where diving and snorkelling are available.

Aside from water sports, there are several exciting things to see on Bum Bum Island during your stay. Bum Bum Island is home to approximately 20,000 people. They live in one of the 34 villages and tiny hamlets that dot the coastline. Wandering around the island will introduce you to the local culture. On the island, seaweed harvesting is taking place. Its use as a dietary supplement and medicine is increasing. 

Address: Sabah

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8. Mataking Island 

Mataking-Island-
Image Credit: http://www.mataking.com
Mataking-Island-
Image Credit: Mataking Island

Mataking Island is one of the most romantic places you can visit. Perfect for new couples looking for a fantastic honeymoon destination, old couples looking to rekindle romance, or people seeking to maintain their sanity by escaping the city’s bustle. Mataking Island offers a variety of activities for visitors, both diving and non-diving related. Divers can explore the many dive sites surrounding Mataking Island in crystal-clear waters, while non-divers can relax with spa treatments and batik painting. 

Mataking Island offers kayaking, canoeing, and jungle trekking excursions for the more daring. The infamous “Underwater Post Office” is the highlight of this Sabah Island. Reef Dive Resort, the only resort here, sank an old 40-foot wooden cargo ship in March 2006 to create an artificial reef and an underwater mailbox. Divers can post their mail underwater by sealing it in a waterproof vacuum bag.

Address: Sabah

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9. Gaya Island

Gaya-Island
Image Credit: Audley Travel
Gaya-Island-
Image Credit: Agoda

Gaya Island is the largest and most well-known island in the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, not far from Kota Kinabalu’s coast. As one of Sabah’s largest and most popular islands, it uniquely blends relaxing beach activities and incredible underwater experiences such as snorkelling and diving. Gaya Island is a 1,465-hectare Malaysian island located 10 minutes from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Gaya Island got its name from the Bajau word “Gayo,” which means “large,” It covers an area of 15 km2 with elevations of up to 300 metres. 

Gaya Island’s main draw is its 400-metre stretch of sparkling white sand at Police Bay. Relax on the warm sand and dip in the crystal clear waters. Along its entire coast are numerous coral reefs for adventure seekers to explore. Beachcombing, diving, trekking, photography, and beachcombing are available. It’s one of Eastern Malaysia’s hidden gems, and Remote Lands guests will appreciate its stunning beauty and laid-back atmosphere.

Address: Sabah

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Google Review: Here

10. Mamutik Island 

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Image Credit: KKday
Mamutik-Island-
Image Credit: Trip.com

Mamutik Island, opposite Manukan, is the smallest island in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. The speedboat journey from Jesselton Point is the fastest among all islands, making it a popular option for those who want to spend as little time as possible at the beach and sea.

While small, there is a full range of visitor facilities minus a hotel, restrooms, restaurant, convenience store, and dive station. The island’s surroundings have clear water with a variety of colourful fish and corals for snorkelling, but the beach areas are somewhat constrained. Mamutik is included in island-hopping tour packages that include a buffet lunch.

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Disclosure: This list was compiled by the team at My Weekend Plan after extensive research and shared opinions to suggest helpful recommendations for the public. The sequence of brands is in no particular order so if you have any other great suggestions too, please email us support@myweekendplan.asia. For more information, kindly refer to our copyright, privacy & disclosure policy.

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